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Sound of 2011

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Will Gompertz | 12:26 UK time, Friday, 7 January 2011

So, Jessie J has won the Sound of 2011. These things are subjective (Yuck are much better), but is the endorsement of her musical talents by Simon Cowell a good thing or a bad thing?

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What can we read into this? According to its website the BBC Sound of 2011 list aims to "highlight the most promising new music for the year ahead". Could it be that the X Factor impresario's taste in music might be changing or that its pervasiveness has unconsciously influenced the pop pickers who choose this year's winner?


  • Comment number 1.

    This just serves to confirm the cynical nature of this business.

    The BBC is merely doing the bidding of record companies and is complicit in foisting acts on the public that they have no genuine interest in.

    Cowell's championing of Cher Lloyd throughout the X-Factor even though she consistently received very few votes proves his attitude is that should the public not like what someone has to offer, he will make them like it through force.

    What a charade. We are now being told in advance what we will like in the coming year.

  • Comment number 2.

    Yes, charade is good word. Farce is another. It's another PR stunt that is indicative of the marketing-led music industry. I fear that being dubbed "the most promising new music for the year ahead" will probably be the kiss of death for Jessie J. One things for sure – she almost certainly won't turn out to be the best thing about 2011's music scene.

  • Comment number 3.

    Formula and profit (for label / manager) followed by obscurity.

  • Comment number 4.

    im just bored of this. its just one big pr stunt and means nothing to the man in street.

  • Comment number 5.

    So bad language and a bad attitude count for talent these days? Whatever happened to real talent... Get out of the gutter R1!

  • Comment number 6.

    As a radio 3 listener, currently being bored to my grave by 24-7 Mozart, I can cast my disinterested ear over these morsels with better impartiality.

    Firstly, from the numbers on their Myspace pages, I fail to see anything new, or indeed interesting, about Yuck. Insipid would have been a more appropriate name for them to adopt.

    This is the first time I've heard Jessie J and I have to say my first impression was a mixture of interest and disappointment. She has a comely voice for her chosen genre but it doesn't exactly sound new, and probably wouldn't sound new in any year in the past decade or maybe two.

    Cowell might influence what I hear but not much what I like. In fact, in this matter his opinion might even be counter-productive. Wannabes need his patronage and good luck to them but I don't really care so long as there is an alternative.

    The panel of Sound of 2011 are described as ''tastemakers'', and RangerWill complains, ''We are now being told in advance what we will like in the coming year''. But it's always been thus, as far as I can remember. The good news is our tastes mature the more we hear and soon this sort of thing becomes irrelevant to us. Irritation turns to smiles and knowing nods as we reach across for something we know is better.

    Jessie J looks like a slim, young Dawn French but I don't know if French is still up for a parody. Perhaps she's moved on from those, and rightly so.

  • Comment number 7.

    Generic pop fluff in an edgy, committee-approved package. Exchange the lyrics for more sanitary fare and you've got a complete facsimile of what the radio has been playing for the last year or 18 months.

    To answer the question, it is probably a good thing for her career. I don't particularly care whether Simon Cowell endorses anything or not. Nothing against him, but I tend to use my own ears when listening to music, not the words of a multi-millionaire who wants to sell me a product. To be quite honest, I'm more tired of BBC's music coverage being about 'the industry' and 'what will be big'. When have those things ever provided a strong correlation with 'what is good' and 'what is interesting?'

    I predict in 2011 three guitar bands to have a hit and the BBC to regurgitate thinkpieces about why Britain loves guitar music, followed by last year's 'why did British artists not do so well in America' in 2012. Predictable to the end.

  • Comment number 8.

    Simon Cowell will always 'like' the next big thing, even if he hasn't yet heard it. He'd like the sound of continuous vomiting if it sold. An inclusion in 'the list' means playlist repetition and over hype by the likes of radio 1 for the following 12 months, hence guaranteed sales, a quick buck and another formula to imitate with his next series of clones.

  • Comment number 9.

    Worth checking out the performance by Jessie J on Later with Jools Holland. Its brilliant, her single out now isnt!
    As for Simon Cowell the only reason he would endorse an artist is self interest and promotion.

  • Comment number 10.

    The fact that J's career is owned by Universal, the largest record company in the world, rings alarm bells. I am not suggesting that the BBC is in Universal's pocket, but they simply would not have noticed J if she had been on a true independent label. Having said that, she sounds mildly interesting in a Ms Dynamite kind of way and I predict her career will follow a similar trajectory - mild critical acclaim, a couple of hits, universally ignored second album, followed by occasional reality TV appearances.

    But there is something quite depressing about this award. We are asked to view singers like J (and Dynamite, Lily Allen, Rumer, etc etc etc) as true artists striking a blow for female empowerment. But scratch the surface and you inevitably find some middle-aged male musician billed as a "co-writer"/mentor. This isn't an exclusively female phenomena - the same applied to Robbie Williams/Guy Chambers - but the record industry has clearly seen it is onto a good thing with young female "singer-songwriters".

    The real shame is that there must be great female artists out there who ARE in charge of their music in the same way as forerunners such as Bic Runga, Tori Amos, Kate Bush & Carly Simon. It would be wonderful to hear that the BBC's "Sound of 2012" is a young woman otherwise unheralded by the industry, and who is producing her own music from scratch. Sadly the reality is that the next 'next big thing' will be another record company mannequin. So much for 'Girl Power'.

  • Comment number 11.

    I feel that it is so easy to assume that Jessie J will follow suit of all 'hyped' artists and not live up to expectations. The endorsement from Simon Cowell and the BBC/MTV may make it seem like she is another manufactured, pop, piece of fluff, but the difference is that Jessie has been signed for 6 years and has been working behind the scenes as a song writer in LA.

    She already has the respect of a huge number of producers and other well established artists- Justin Timberlake has hailed her as the best song writer around. Listen to her other songs before you come to a decision about her ability and chances of longevity in the business. Compare the style of 'Do it like a Dude' to the likes of 'Price Tag', 'Who You Are', 'Mama Knows Best'. Her versatility shows her intelligence as a song writer- she embraces all sorts of styles, so she can appeal to as many audiences as possible. Her voice is astounding, her musicality, precision and sense of rhythm really sets her apart from a lot of modern 'singers'. She openly speaks of her dislike for miming, and when you see her talk (watch her feature on the album chart show) there is such a sense of passion. She has been working for 6 years to get to this point, she is grounded, and clearly knows what she is doing to have a lasting career in what has become such a fleeting music business.

    If she plays her cards right we could see her becoming an extremely powerful woman in the music business. The combination of being a respected song writer as well as performer means she has a number of paths to maintain her career. What makes her such a great writer is her ability to create 'characters' or understand different personalities in songs. She talks about her experience in musical theatre and how that means she likes to take on characters when performing. 'Do it like a Dude' was originally written with American artist 'Rihanna' in mind but her record company told her to keep this one for herself. This means that the Jessie J we see in this song is completely different to the vulnerable character we see in 'Who You Are'. They are all autobiographical but focusing on the various aspects of her personality. That is what makes an exciting songwriter. She is certainly not fluff! I truly see her making a huge impact on the music business in 2011.

  • Comment number 12.

    & how much is pyxie on to promote Jessie J? Or is she a relative?


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